For some, it is not an easy topic to bring up with our kids – and yes, I said kids, because I think it is something our boys should know about too!
When to Talk to Your Kids
On average, girls will get their first period when they are about 12 – 13 years old. Some of them are happy, some are scared, but for all of them it means a big change.
I am a big fan of things being just matter of fact and a part of life. Therefor, I have never thought that “the talk” was the way to go. I also don’t like the “hand them a pamphlet” approach is adequate (that’s what my mom did for me – she was embarrassed about the whole think I think. I don’t know what kind of information she was given). Even the health classes in school can fall short.
I think a better approach is to have many smaller conversations with your kids as things come up. Even small children ask questions about the birds and the bees that can be answered frankly.
By the time our kids are close to puberty, they should have full knowledge of the changes that will take place in their bodies. If is better that they get the information from us rather than searching for it themselves on the internet or hearing it from their friends – both sources may not be the most reliable!
Talk early, and talk often. It's important to tell kids the truth about menstruation in an age-appropriate way. Don't be surprised by their questions — they're probably the same questions you had at that age. If you are comfortable talking about things with your kids, they will be comfortable coming to you with their questions.
The basics are a good place to start. They should know that an average cycle is 28 days long from the first day the period to the first day of the next period. It is important that they understand that some cycles are as short as 22 days and others are as long as 45. They also need to know that a period can last anywhere from 2 to 7 days. Their cycle may be regular — about the same length every month — or somewhat irregular. Their period might be light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short, and still be considered normal. What is normal for their friends may not be normal for them. They may notice their emotions change throughout their cycle too.
In addition to understanding how menstruation works, girls need to be familiar with feminine-hygiene supplies (sanitary pads and tampons) and they should know that sometimes periods may cause cramps when the muscles of the uterus contract. Prepare them ahead of time.
There is a lot more they will need to know, and they will have questions as time goes by too.
Although we don’t want to think that our young teens may be sexually active, many of them are. It is very important that they know the facts about how pregnancy occurs and that it can occur anytime throughout their cycle! There are so many myths out there and not just with teens but with young adults as well. Sexually active girls can get pregnant even before their first period – because they will ovulate before menstruating. They can also become pregnant during their period as well.
More to Come
As I started writing this, I realized that there is a whole lot more information than I can put in one article – so stay tuned for articles on teaching out kids about puberty, sex, birth control, pregnancy and more!
For more on parenting tips, check out Maternity Corner.